The TEF (Teaching and Excellence Framework) is a government initiative which categorizes Universities across the country with Gold, Silver, and Bronze ratings. Last year, this rating system was one of the basis’ upon which any given University was evaluated; it was also one of the factors that prompted the famous ‘Boycott the NSS’ campaign which was headed by the Student officer team. The purpose of last years boycott was to avoid the possibility that a higher TEF rating (such as Gold) would allow a University to raise its tuition fees. For more information regarding last years NSS campaign, you can read Guild President Sean Turner’s article from last year regarding his support for the boycott here.
Along with 11 other Universities, the University of Liverpool’s NSS boycott campaign was successful, with an overall turnout of below 50%. However, the Guild is now supportive of re-entering the TEF in a bid to ‘improve its performance ranking from a bronze to a silver’. Three of the four student officers are in agreement with this as ‘Wednesday’s Government budget suggests that there will be no fee increases for at least two more years. Even if the policy on TEF and fees changes, universities hold their TEF rating for three years, so the debate can be reopened then’.
The desire to re-enter comes with the concern that ‘50% of students would have reconsidered or not applied to their University if they had known it was rated “Bronze”’. In order to improve the University’s teaching quality and standard, they see it as necessary to re-enter the bid, but acknowledge that the system is still flawed.
However, the Student Officer team is not unanimous in the decision to re-enter the bid. Vice President Rory Hughes, in a statement titled ‘Let’s continue the fight’, asserts that although the link between tuition fees and the TEF has been severed, this is only a temporary measure. Whilst he also acknowledges that it is vital for Universities to receive feedback from students, he believes that this could be done through different means and that ‘Poor NSS results are often unjustly tied to how much funding a university gives its Students’ Union and are used as a mechanism for asserting control over our autonomous representative body’.
For further information and the full statements for and against the University re-entering the TEF click the link below: